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Before You Were Mine by Carol Ann Duffy is an affectionate poem, essentially about how a daughter imagines her mothers carefree teenage years,

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Introduction

'Before You Were Mine' by Carol Ann Duffy is an affectionate poem, essentially about how a daughter imagines her mother's carefree teenage years, a decade before her daughter, the poet, was born. Her strong relationship with her mother is evident in the process. Without having really known her mother in her youth, she still misses her youthful nature. The poet regrets not having seen this facet of her mother's personality and somewhere along the way she knows that her birth is the reason for this. The title itself gives the first impression that the poem is dedicated to a lover and it is only when you read the third stanza that you can be sure that it is an ode from a daughter to her mother. The words 'Before You Were Mine' shows possessiveness, protectiveness, closeness and strong love. The title gives a good sense of the unique and possessive relationship of that of a mother and daughter. The title essentially means, 'before I was born' but the use of the words 'you' and 'mine' give it a very deep and intimate feel. The accurate visual description of the first stanza gives us a sense that poet may be looking at an old photograph of her mother and her friends laughing on a pavement. The description primarily serves to highlight the fun and frolic of her mother's glamorous youth. ...read more.

Middle

The clattering again refers to her red high-heeled shoes that symbolize her young days. 'I see you, clear as scent' is a deliberate mixing of the sense called synaethesia to show how a familiar smell can trigger a vivid recollection. The poet again jumps back to the imaginary past where her mother is probably kissing her lover under a lit up tree. She then affectionately chides her mother, 'and whose small bites on your neck, sweetheart?' It is somewhat of a reversal of roles where the daughter is protective and chides her mother and refers to her as 'sweetheart' as she imagines the love bites on her mother's neck. The fourth and final stanza begins with another incident in the daughter's childhood, where her mother would teach her the 'Cha cha cha' on the way back from Church, suggesting that even though there may not be any occasion for her to dance this sensual Cuban dance, she still remembers it. The line, 'Stamping stars on the wrong pavement' has many hidden meanings. 'Stamping' refers to her mother's sensible shoes and is a direct contrast to the 'clattering' of her high-heeled party shoes. It impresses the idea that motherhood has caused many physical and mental changes in her. The 'wrong pavement' suggests that looking at the photograph, the daughter feel that her mother's rightful place was in a ballroom or maybe even in Hollywood (reference to the stars on the pavement in Hollywood). ...read more.

Conclusion

of the universe of her mother and that she had a life and that too a perfectly happy one before the birth of her child. Duffy celebrates the enchantingly beautiful youth of her mother. She glorifies her spirited nature and regrets that she herself is the reason that her mother has had to limit and change herself. Duffy laments not knowing her mother when she was a teenager and having snatched away her hopes and dreams. The poem is refreshing in the way a daughter enthuses over her mother's past and ends up understanding her better, having realized that her mother was just like her in her teens as well. Like the daughter, the mother too was full of life, hopes and dreams. Very often when we see a mother, we don't tend to go beyond her husband and children or at most her work or hobbies. Nobody tries to find out about her identity beyond her domestic one, the identity that was suppressed when she was confined to a new home and a new life. Carol Ann Duffy has done just that. She asks us to look at women, just as women. Not just as wives, not just as mothers but to search beyond that and recognize the sacrifice that they have made as individuals to fulfill those domestic roles. Page 1/5 English Language & Literature SL Written Task 1 Sanjana Purker 03/03/12 Word Count : 1762 ...read more.

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